Sunday, November 25, 2012


Sometimes, as a minister, I get to see things in a way that nobody else does. For instance, on Christmas Eve, when the entire congregation lifts its candles up on the last verse of "Silent Night," I see it from the front of the church. I get to see all of the candles go up at the same time.

Or, at funerals, when I go down the row with the family at the graveside, I see the grief - up close and personal.

Last Sunday, I had another unique view. I baptized two middle-school aged boys. I'm the only one that gets to see the face of the baptismal candidate when the go under the water...I'm the only one in the baptistery with them. That just hit me last week - it's a face of total vulnerability (and I always pray that I don't destroy their trust in me by dropping them!), and it's a face of excitement and expectation, and it's a face that is leaving behind everything that is not of God and rising up to everything that least that is our prayer.

That's a moment.

That is the kind of moment that inspires me.

Church can be a lot of administrative details - keeping the database up to date, printing mailing labels, typing and photocopying bulletins, ordering curriculum, buying postage, committee meetings, taking out the garbage, watering the plants, email, voicemail...blah, blah, blah...

And, all of that has to be done...

But, all of that can be, well, less than inspiring.

So, when I get a moment - one of those moments that drips God - I cherish it. It's a gift of this vocation called ministry.

It's funny because I suppose most people would call me an introvert - and I am. But, I don't need my usual space when those moments show up. I can be in them. I can be of them. And, I can be thankful for them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Over the summer, I borrowed a lot of books from the theological library at Drew. It was such a GREAT library, and really, its influence stretches all the way down to North Carolina with its on-line collection. I am in awe of the number of journals and books that are available with the click of a button...if you are student.

Anyway, I borrowed several books, and although they are not due back until the end of December, the postmaster suggested I ship them mid-November if I was using media mail. So, I copied a few chapters (perfectly legal) and then I put them in a box, taped it up with way more tape than was necessary, and printed off my label.

It may sound silly, but I felt a little like I was shipping off old friends. Those books helped me find inspiration for my project. They sat in my dorm room for a few weeks as a I tried to decide which ones I could leave in New Jersey. And, then they served as my backseat driver on my trip home from New Jersey. Since then, they've kept me company in a box behind my desk (I wanted to keep them all together, because I was afraid of losing one), and I've flipped through them a time or two searching for this or that.

Now, I have a lot more space behind my desk, and they are on their way back home - because they were never permanently mine.

I think there is a sermon in that somewhere.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

I did not know what to expect when I registered to walk 39.3 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. All I knew was that my college friend and suite mate was fighting breast cancer. And, a church member was planning to walk in the Avon walk...and it sounded like a challenge, so that's how I got involved.

I started training last summer while I was in New Jersey. As soon as I got back to North Carolina, I realized I needed a better pair of shoes. I went to Fleet Feet in Raleigh to be fitted for a pair of high-mileage shoes and to get some new socks. The socks, I have learned, are key to a blister-free walk! Then, it was game on - we trained throughout the fall - squeezing in 4-8 mile walks during the week and heading out for 16-22 mile walks on the weekends. By the time the Avon Walk arrived, I was confident we could finish.

We got started early Saturday morning. I was in my most comfortable pair of blue jeans, but others wore pink tutu's, pink wigs, pink tights...and almost everyone had a sign on their backs that said, "I walk for...." and then names were written in. All through the day, biker babes and bikers like this guy drove their motorcycles to busy street corners to help us cross without being mowed down by traffic. They had all decorated their bikes and had loud music playing - fun stuff like "Call Me, Maybe" and "Stayin' Alive." At one point, a biker drove by playing the theme from Rocky and waving at us.

The encouragement was phenomenal. A youth group was out in yellow t-shirts and they moved from point to point cheering us on with "Go Walkers," and "You've got this!" and "You're almost there!" I don't think I have been praised that much since I was potty trained. At each rest stop, medical personnel were on hand to deal with blisters - "every blister saves a sister" and to offer ibuprofen for aches and pains. (I took a lot of that!) Volunteers were also standing by to thank us over and over again for walking and to make sure we did not forget to fill our water bottles.

After the halfway point on the first day, we walked through an elementary school yard. All of the windows had been decorated for us! Signs. Posters. And, the sidewalk was covered with chalk drawings. I couldn't believe that the students and teachers took time to decorate like that for complete strangers. They will never know how good we felt as we read their messages. That goes for the neighborhoods, too. Several homes put out signs and tied pink balloons to their mailboxes. And, some families were out with water and snacks.

These ladies were the most vocal with their support. They drove a big white 'sweeper' van with pink streamers all through the day - honking and yelling and picking up walkers who could not finish. They were passionate, I tell you. And, they made us laugh each time they drove by.

After the first day, I soaked my feet in cold water at (upon the advice of my marathon running sister) and then sat on my bed with my feet up until 9 PM. That's when I fell asleep. I woke up on Sunday feeling remarkably rested and ready. The 13.1 miles seemed painless. I think a night of rest helped a lot.

The entire weekend was positive and uplifting - a much needed change in this election season. As we walked through the Charlotte neighborhoods, we did see a lot of campaign signs, and I am sure that lots of opinions were represented in that group of walkers (who raised 1.75 million!), but none of those opinions mattered for those two days. We were all just part of a group of people walking for a common cause. That gave me hope.

When we finished...

I felt like I could do this...

Here's to next year!